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August 10, 2017
NYMF Review: Peace, Love and Cupcakes: The Musical
Madison Mullahey, Calli McRae, and Carrie Berk star in Peace, Love, and Cupcakes: The Musical, directed by Rommy Sandhu, for NYMF at the Acorn Theatre. Book by Sheryl Berk, Carrie Berk & Jill Jaysen; Music and Lyrics by Rick Hip-Flores.
(© Nathan Yungerberg)

What’s not to love with a musical about cupcakes? Tempering the sourness of mean girl cliques with the sweetness of its titular baking, Peace, Love and Cupcakes: The Musical of the New York Musical Festival brings a unique twist to the classic story of a girl coming into herself despite the school bullies standing in her way.

Kylie (Carrie Berk) is, in a word, different. She stands out from her peers, but not in a good way. Faced with snickers and mean-spirited comments in every class and corner of the hall, she has no friends, and no place in school to call her own. Things only get worse when Meredith (Alexa Reeves), the most popular girl in school and leader of the BLAH girls clique, makes it her mission to take Kylie down. The aptly-titled song “Kylie Carson Doesn’t Belong Here” makes it clear exactly how alone Kylie is at her school.

Kylie can’t see a way out of her loneliness, but her quirky art teacher Juliette (Calli McRae) inspires her to start a club to make a group of friends. With Juliette as faculty advisor, Kylie starts a cupcake club. Alongside the girls who join, Kylie makes increasingly ambitious recipes. The club makes its school premiere at the yearly eco-fair, and enjoys a smash success as everyone raves about their cupcakes. That is, until Meredith, still hell-bent on destroying Kylie’s reputation, intervenes. As the fair dies down, she vows to take down the cupcake club, threatening Kylie’s newfound friendships and happiness.

Where Kylie is portrayed with nuance, the character of her antagonist Meredith is painted in much broader strokes. The character relies on stereotypical attributes of the classic “mean girl” to define her personality, and as a result, her motivation for going after Kylie so doggedly is often unclear. However, Reeves’ superb performance and captivating voice brings a freshness to the character that adds a layer of nuance to her interactions with Kylie.

Carrie Berk shines at the show’s center as Kylie, providing one of the show’s more unique perspectives through her perspective on the school social order. The large ensemble sparkles as well, with the Allergy Table bringing in some of the show’s best jokes. Though the musical’s cupcake solution to bullying might be a little simplistic, it’s baked to the brim with charm, and will surely encourage its young audience members to embrace their own uniqueness in equally delicious ways.

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NYMF Interview: Carrie Berk on ‘Peace, Love, and Cupcakes: The Musical’

By Hanna Oldsman

The 2017 New York Musical Festival, which runs July 10 through August 6, will bring audiences four full weeks of new musicals, concerts, readings, and panel discussions. We spoke with Carrie Berk (book) about her musical Peace, Love, and Cupcakes: The Musical, which she wrote with Rick Hip-Flores (music/lyrics) and her mom, Sheryl Berk, and Jill Jaysen (book). Tell us about your show! New kid, Kylie Carson is “different” – which can make middle school a very scary and unfriendly place. So she cooks up a sweet solution: form a cupcake club that’s open to anyone seeking friendship and a place to belong. But the popular clique turns bitter with jealousy and vows to destroy the club’s efforts. Kylie is now faced with a tough choice: stoop to the mean girls’ level or take the higher road. What was the first musical that made you want to make musicals? Wicked. I loved not just the score but the relationships between characters. I love that we see a different side to Glinda and Elphaba; they are never two dimensional. The bad girl can be compassionate and the good girl can be pushed to a place where she questions if revenge isn’t appealing. I see shades of that in Kylie and her nemesis Me …Read more

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Written by: Auriane Desombre
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